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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Giddyup, Church!

I’m filling my gas tank more often but enjoying it less; and please don’t tell me a cup of coffee at Starbucks is about as expensive as a gallon of gas. I can get by without ever buying a cup of coffee at Starbucks, but I can’t get by without purchasing gas. Another thing: I can enjoy coffee at home for pennies a cup, but where can I buy gas for pennies a gallon?
Fifty-six years ago I began a summer job as a substitute retail bread salesman. When a full-time bread salesman took a vacation lasting a week or two, I served his 250-plus customers. I sold a loaf of bread for 12 cents, a pie for 35 cents, and a double-layer cake for 45 cents. A dozen donuts went for 18 cents. I can’t remember what gas cost back then, because the bakery supplied it from its own pumps. I’m guessing motorists could purchase gas for about 15 cents per gallon.
We have come a long way, haven’t we?
A few bread routes I serviced used a horse and wagon. The cost was minimal. A bag of oats and a bucket of water worked just fine to complete my rounds. Furthermore, a horse served as a reliable guide. It knew where each customer lived, and clip-clopped along from house to house. Each morning I walked my horse from the stable, harnessed it, and hitched it to the wagon. At day’s end, I reversed the order. Each horse had a name: Champion, Daisy, and Buttermilk are a few I remember.
Routes beyond the city required trucks. We used Chevys and Internationals, all of which came equipped with governors so we couldn’t exceed the highest speed limit.
Here’s an amazing piece of nostalgia—I drove an electric truck on one city route. It was stand-up-drive, silent, emission free, and reached a maximum speed of 17 miles per hour. After servicing the bread route each day, I simply plugged the truck’s battery into a power source in the bread company’s terminal. The battery recharged overnight.
I often think about that electric truck when I pump $45 of gas into my car. I wonder why cars aren’t fueled by electricity today, 56 years after I drove an electric bread truck. Technology has improved life in so many ways, but we are still dependent on oil, most of it foreign oil. It is hard not to quote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “Something’s rotten in the state of Denmark.”
But how sound is the state of the Church? What has the Church learned in the past 56 years? In spite of a plethora of mega-churches and multi-million-dollar Christian organizations, how much closer are we to fulfilling the Great Commission than we were 56 years ago or 2,000 years ago? It costs a ton of money to keep a church afloat today, but it doesn’t cost anything to share the gospel one-on-one. I’m not suggesting we scrap high-tech methodologies, but I am suggesting we take more individual responsibility for the work of evangelism.
By the way, along the bread route the horse attracted more kids and parents to the wagon and my baked goods than a truck did. Maybe old-fashioned personal evangelism is still a good way to attract people to Christ.

1 comment:

Carol Wilson said...

Preach it, Preacher! This is great.